Board adopts resolution against the state budget

CITY HALL — The Burbank Board of Education Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution rebuking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2008-09 budget, which cuts funding to kindergarten through 12th-grade public education to help make up a $14.5-billion shortfall.

The budget would either reduce or suspend state Proposition 98 — which sets a minimum funding level for education — spelling mass layoffs for tens of thousands of teachers and increased classroom sizes, according to the Burbank Superintendent’s Office.

In Burbank, suspending Proposition 98 would mean $11 million in lost funding.

“We do not need to have education take the brunt of the hits,” Board Vice President Larry Applebaum said.

“This is something that’s really not fair to the kids. And since we’re representing the kids, as advocates of the kids, we need to encourage adults to do what we need to do to stop this.”

The Burbank Unified School District is in a different position than many others in the state — some that have already sent out mass layoff notices to their teachers — because of cuts made in 2002-03 to respond to state budget pressures at that time, Supt. Gregory Bowman said.

District officials are not planning to reduce the work force and will proceed with the same general fund programs next school year, utilizing, if necessary, reserves that have accumulated during the past few years, he said.

But reductions in financial support over time could have a negative impact on the district’s continued academic growth, Bowman said.

The district’s Academic Performance Index has risen steadily since 2003, jumping about 10 points each year to 787 in 2007.

“We are providing a strong academic foundation in education for the students of our schools,” he said.

“To reduce funding and expect the same results is not realistic.”

Ongoing budget discussions are especially problematic in light of the fact that the district has to submit its budget to the state before the state even passes a budget of its own,

Board President Debbie Kukta said.

“We kind of have to do that blindly,” she said.

In spite of the many boards and organizations voicing their disapproval of the governor’s proposed budget, it is still incumbent upon individual citizens to voice their feelings to their legislators, Applebaum said.

“We speak as a body, an institutional body which has no impact on elections,” he said.

“But the membership of the community and the people that you represent as members of PTA or any of the other organizations . . . are the real power brokers in the quest to not destroy what’s going on in education.”

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